Slim and ultra-light. Long lamp life for an LCD projector. Very good data and video image quality. Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.
Can't project 3D content. Soft sound system.
- Bottom Line
The Epson PowerLite 1781W Wireless WXGA 3LCD Projector provides a winning combination of good brightness and resolution, above-par data and video image quality, and a good set of wired and wireless connection choices in a slim and light frame.
By Tony Hoffman
The Epson PowerLite 1781W Wireless WXGA 3LCD Projector is a powerhouse as a portable data projector, providing solid brightness and resolution in a thin and light frame. In our testing, it showed very good data image quality, and great video image quality for a data projector. It delivers higher brightness and a longer lamp life than the Epson PowerLite 1761W Multimedia Projector while retaining its stellar image quality, so it's our new Editors' choice ultra-light WXGA data projector.
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Design and Features
The all-black projector measures a thin 2 by 11.5 by 8.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 4 pounds. It's similar in form to the Epson 1761W as well as the Casio Slim XJ-A247, which has nearly identical dimensions but is heavier at 5 pounds. The 1781W has a rated brightness of 3,200 lumens (up from the 2,600 lumens in the Epson 1761W) and has a native WXGA (1,280 by 800) resolution, compatible with widescreen laptops with a 16:10 aspect ratio. Its light engine employs the 3LCD technology that Epson helped develop.
There's a zoom wheel behind the lens, as well as a focus control that uses forward and back arrows, with which I was able to get a sharp image. Beside the focus control are a four-way controller with a central Enter button, an on-off button, Home, Menu, and several other buttons. You can also access these and other functions with the included remote control. The projector comes with a soft carrying case, including several pouches and a messenger strap.
You get all the ports that count for a portable data projector: VGA, HDMI, RCA video, audio in; a type B USB port for USB Plug and Play, and a type A USB port for running a computer-free presentation off a USB thumb drive. It has a built-in LAN module for connecting to a wireless network, and it can connect wirelessly via NFC (near field communication) over a peer-to-peer connection with compatible Android devices.
I tested the 1781W from about 7 feet away, where the image filled our test screen (about 72 inches diagonal). It stood up well, without notable degradation, to ambient light when I introduced it.
Data image quality, as tested using the DisplayMate suite, was very good for a business projector. In our text testing, black text on white was easily readable at 7.5 points, and white text on black at 9 points. Colors were bright and well saturated. It had good color balance, with just a trace of red in some dark gray swatches.
Video, Audio, Bulb Life
Video quality was above average for a data projector, good enough even to show full-length movies with. It did very well in capturing detail in dark scenes, but there was a modest loss of detail in some very bright scenes. As an LCD-based projector, the 1781W is immune to the distracting rainbow effect frequently seen in DLP projectors, although like most LCD projectors, it can't project 3D content. Audio from the 1-watt speaker is of modest volume, adequate for use in a small classroom, and sound quality is reasonably good.
The 1781W has a lamp life of up to 7,000 hours in Eco mode, 4,000 hours in normal mode. That's good for a data projector, and better than the 4,000 hours in both Eco and normal mode that we saw in the Epson 1761W. Still, it's well short of the Casio XJ-A247, whose hybrid LED-laser light engine's bulb can last up to 20,000 hours, essentially the lifetime of the projector. The 1781W, though, offers better data and video image quality (the latter free from the rainbow artifacts seen in the Casio's video), at a much lower price.
The Epson 1781W is a well rounded, thin-and-light projector, with good brightness and resolution, very good data and video image quality, and a wide range of connectivity choices. One of its few shortfalls is that as an LCD-based projector, it cannot project 3D content, which you can find in many portable WXGA data projectors such as the ViewSonic PJD6544w. But that only matters if you need to project in 3D. For its winning combination of features and performance at a reasonable price, the Epson PowerLite 1781W Wireless WXGA 3LCD Projector is our latest Editors' Choice ultra-light WXGA data projector.
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As Analyst for printers, scanners, and projectors, Tony Hoffman tests and reviews these products and provides news coverage for these categories. Tony has worked at PC Magazine since 2004, first as a Staff Editor, then as Reviews Editor, and more recently as Managing Editor for the printers, scanners, and projectors team. In addition to editing, Tony has written articles on digital photography and reviews of digital cameras, PCs, and iPhone apps Prior to joining the PCMag team, Tony worked for 17 years in magazine and journal… More »
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